Given the current economic climate — high inflation, rising credit card interest rates and so forth — many people are looking for ways to boost their income. Not only can this make it easier to combat rising costs, but it can also help those who want to pay down existing debt or start saving or investing in the future.
One such way to add to your income is by purchasing items at thrift stores and flipping them for a profit — also known as thrift store flipping. If you go about it strategically, you can resell what you buy online, through an app, or in person. Depending on your goals and methods, you could end up making anywhere from a few extra dollars to hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month.
Here are the top eight steps for making money via thrifting.
Set a Monetary Goal
When it comes to thrifting, the amount of money you can make depends on several factors. Things like the amount of time you put into it, the niche you choose, and the platform you sell your goods on can all influence your income.
Willow Wright, the owner of Urban Redeux, a vintage shop in the DC Metro area, notes that someone’s earning potential could vary widely. “It could range from a couple hundred dollars a month for someone working very part-time to a full-time sneaker or vintage t-shirt reseller that [is] making $100K a year,” Wright said.
Set some realistic financial goals for yourself and make a plan around them. This will help you get started and achieve what you set out to do.
Choose a Profitable Niche
As with many things, choosing a lucrative niche is vital to being successful as a thrift store flipper. After all, you can find many different types of goods at thrift shops, but not all are as highly desired or valuable as others.
“I would suggest doing some research into the niche you want to get into, and seeing whether people’s listings are selling,” said Chelsea Clarke, founder and owner at HerPaperRoute. “Popular niches include music, fashion, video games, and collectibles. Once you’re ready to start, you could get on eBay and promote your listings using social media like TikTok or Instagram.”
Pick the Right Platform
Next, think about which platform you want to primarily use to resell your items. The niche you choose has a major influence on this.
“For example, if you find an item from a high-end (but lesser known) designer, you could probably sell it on sites like The RealReal,” said Max Ade, CEO of Pickleheads. “They take the step of authenticating it for customers, which makes them more comfortable with a high price. You’d have a harder time selling it on another site that doesn’t include that service.”
Other options include Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, Mercari and Etsy.
Understand the Item’s Value
It’s also important to consider the price of each item before purchasing it. “It’s definitely possible to make money thrifting if you’re able to find the items for a reasonable price so you can mark them up,” said Clarke. “However, you do need to do some research beforehand so you know what the typical price of items would be (such as vintage records, for example).”
Ade added, “You can make money from thrifting, but you have to have a good eye for what will sell and how it’s priced. Items that are priced well below their market value are your best bet for flipping something, but that’s only half of it.”
Part of becoming a successful thrift shop reseller involves competitor research. See what others are doing in your niche, and how they’re pricing their goods. This can help you make informed decisions about your own items.
Consider Any Costs
To maximize your profitability, weigh the costs associated with thrifting. This includes the initial purchase price, of course, but it can also include any platform fees. And, if you choose to ship your goods, you may be faced with additional costs.
Shipping “opens up worldwide opportunities, but also comes with additional costs to use those platforms and the cost of shipping supplies,” said Wright.
Think About the Time Commitment
If you want to make $500 or so a month, you might not need to commit that much time and energy to thrifting and reselling. But if you’re looking to make a greater profit, you’ll probably need to view it as a full-time job.
“Most full-time resellers are working 40-hour weeks between sourcing items at thrift stores in their area and listing their new items on various platforms,” said Wright.
Use Quality Photos and Descriptions
Unless you’re selling in person, chances are any potential buyers are only going to see what you’re selling online. Because of this, it’s important to take high-quality photos and write clear, persuasive descriptions for each item. The better the quality, the greater your chances of making the sale.
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